Q&A with country singer Trisha Yearwood

by Martin Bandyke

Detroit Free Press (MCT)

13 May 2008


Already one of the best-selling vocalists in the history of country music, Trisha Yearwood is now a best-selling author as well. “Georgia Cooking in an Oklahoma Kitchen,” a book of family recipes that Yearwood, her mother and sister coauthored, recently debuted at No. 3 on the New York Times best-seller list. It’s just another accomplishment for the 43-year-old Georgia native, who has had nine No. 1 hits, sold more than 10 million albums and won three Grammys.

Yearwood received some of the best reviews of her career for her latest album, “Heaven, Heartache and the Power of Love,” but isn’t spending a great deal of time touring to support it. Married to fellow country star Garth Brooks since December 2005, Yearwood, Brooks and his three daughters prefer to spend time together at their ranch in Owasso, Okla.

So you’re certainly used to selling a lot of albums by now, but how does it feel to be a best-selling author?
We’re pretty overwhelmed at this moment. It’s so weird. If you’d asked me if I thought “New York Times best-seller” would ever be on the bio, I’d be like: “I don’t think so.” We’re pretty freaked out about it. I’m excited with how well it’s doing, but I’m so proud of it because it’s a true representation of our family and the food that we grew up on.

What gave you the idea to write the book?
I was talking to some publishers about doing something, and they were interested in my writing an autobiography - and I just didn’t want to do that. I don’t know if I ever will, but if I do, it’ll certainly be 20 years down the road. So they said “Is there something you’re interested in?,” and I said cooking. Most people don’t know that I cook except my close friends. We came up with the concept of doing it with my mom and my sister, who are great cooks, and bringing in those family recipes from generations past.

I heard you have something called the “Emmylou factor” when you are wondering whether you should record a particular song. What’s that all about?
I’m such a fan (of Emmylou Harris), and she is a great lady and she represents musical integrity. We don’t live in a world where that’s treasured that much. I’ve had that thought of: “I want to record this song. I think it’s a big hit, but it’s really kind of cheesy - should I record it or not?”

And I’ve thought that if I ran into Emmylou Harris on the street and it was a big hit, would she say “That’s really awesome” or cross to the other side of the street? I never want to record something that I’m not proud of just because I think it might be a big hit. There’s no positive about that because if you record a song you hate and it’s a big hit, then you’re singing a song every night that you hate. And if you record a song that you hate and it isn’t a hit, then you sold out for no reason. You have to focus hard on recording songs that you believe in.

You’ve worked a ton with producer Garth Fundis over the years, including your latest album, “Heaven, Heartache and the Power of Love.” What makes your collaborations with him turn out so well?
Garth Fundis is a song guy. He is in it for the right reasons; he’s about the music. He doesn’t ever try to talk you into recording something that you shouldn’t. He gets it. When you’re in the studio with someone and you’re trying to put music on tape, it’s not something you can put your finger on sometimes. It’s very subjective - basically you’re looking for someone who hears the same things in their head that you do. It’s hard to find that person. It’s like a marriage, really. He and I just have that rapport. Of the 12 albums I’ve made, he’s produced 10 of them. Music is so intimate and so personal that when you can find somebody that feels the same way about it that you do, it’s magic. It can be. It really can be.

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